It may be tempting to view self-care — especially when it comes to supporting your mental health — as something that requires you to “get away” from your normal surroundings. The benefits of going outside and spending time in nature, are firmly established. Data shows that going on the occasional vacation is essential for productivity at work as well as a mental health refresher. But there are also steps you can take closer to home in your daily life that add up to significant benefits for your mental health.
The benefits of informal talk therapy, or simply giving voice to your inner thoughts and feelings, can be extraordinary. People who are able to specifically identify and describe their emotions show an improved likelihood to use healthy coping mechanisms, and avoid self-harming activities, aggression, or binge drinking.
Even school-aged kids who are given focused instruction on recognizing and communicating about their emotions show improved academic performance. Emotional self-awareness can benefit interpersonal relationships and individual wellness, and learning to communicate feelings is a key part of this skill.
Burying emotions, on the other hand, can cause them to build up until they’re overwhelming and toxic. Literally, the term “toxic positivity” can be used to describe the pattern of concealing or suppressing negative emotions and putting on a facade of positivity. Over time, repeated emotional suppression can lead to a host of poor health outcomes, from increased stress to higher risks of serious disease and even death.
Start making an effort to be aware of your emotions, good or bad, and to use language to describe them. Whenever you call or text friends or family from home, make sharing your emotions part of your regular conversations. Start small and expand as you feel comfortable. This can be a life skill that takes years to fully develop, but may be worth it in the long run, for your mental health as well as your whole body health.
Exercise has a plethora of benefits on your mental health, and research has found it “reduces anxiety, depression, and negative mood, and improves self‐esteem and cognitive functioning.” Moreover, exercise helps increase focus and productivity. But exercise doesn’t have to just be going to the gym, playing sports, or going for a run. There are plenty of ways to incorporate a good workout into your day, even while you’re at home.
Below are a few ways to exercise at home:
Research suggests that there is a clear link between diet and mental health. Just like the other organs in your body, your brain needs good food, too. Maintaining a healthy diet means eating lots of different fruits and vegetables, whole grains, high-quality fats, plant- or animal-based proteins, and drinking plenty of water.
When you spend most of your time at home, however, it can become difficult to continually eat healthily when the temptation to snack is constantly present. There are a few ways around this though:
Vitamin and supplement use is more popular now than ever before, with more than half of Americans taking at least one daily supplement. In addition, there’s a growing body of research finding that alternative therapies can be beneficial to mental health. With various types of supplements to choose from, each with their own benefits and uses, read into each of them thoroughly.
Below are a few supplements and vitamins to consider:
It is important to note that vitamins do not boost your immune system. Taking a supplement is only beneficial if you have a deficiency or are pregnant.
Virtual therapy can be a structured way to give voice to your emotions and develop your skills for communicating feelings. A type of telemedicine, virtual therapy takes place via a phone call or video chat. For people with remote jobs, or who have been otherwise impacted by COVID-19, virtual therapy can be an excellent way to support your mental health. You can connect with licensed therapists and counselors or enter chat rooms dedicated to different mental health issues. A virtual therapy session runs much like an in-person session, but from the comfort of your own home.
In conclusion, mental health is an essential part of your overall wellbeing; just like neglecting your body can lead to injury or disease, failing to support your mental health can be detrimental or even deadly. These are just a few ways you can practice mental and emotional self-care from home.